Autumn at Skelton Grange

I’ve been wanting to visit Skelton Grange for ages. It does in Leeds what our St Nicks does here in York. Both are environment centres in urban settings offering, amongst many other things, conservation volunteering opportunities and the chance to frolic (or stomp around – as you prefer) in nature and learn more about it.

St Nicks held its Autumn Fayre on Saturday 15 October (where I presided over the creation of a community poem). The Saturday before that, Skelton Grange held their Big Green Weekend Open Day, and invited me to come and put on an event for visitors. An invitation I couldn’t refuse!

So, I got to Skelton Grange at last! And took families with younger children on Rhyme Time Rambles round their grounds.

The setting for Skelton Grange is urban. Very urban:

The approach to Skelton Grange Environment Centre

The approach to Skelton Grange Environment Centre

But step inside, and you’re in a different world, with woodland and ponds and fruit trees and bird hides …

A bird hide at Skelton Grange

A bird hide at Skelton Grange

… and minibeast hotels and mosaics and sculptures …

A Skelton Grange sculpture

Skelton Grange sculpture

and, and, and!

There was *lots* going on at this Open Day, from spinning to willow weaving to charcoal making to … a tug of war. Oh, and spoon-making, of course, by Dan of 2carvedspoons!

Dan with his carved spoons

Dan with his beautiful carved spoons (and bowls)

Thank you to everyone who came and joined in my Rhyme Time Rambles. And to the Robin that came along for the ride!

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Thank you too to Freya for suggesting me to Skelton Grange in the first place. And to Toby for all his admin and organisation.

Freya busy serving freshly baked pizzas

Freya busy serving freshly baked pizzas

If you live in Leeds and haven’t been to Skelton Grange, then I thoroughly recommend it as a place where both you and the kids can run around through bird- and minibeast-rich woodland and meadow and get a real sense of being in the great outdoors slap bang in the middle of a big city. A place where you can breathe.

They run all sorts of activities and courses too. Check out their website for more details.

Skelton Grange Environment Centre

Skelton Grange Environment Centre

And if you’d like me to put on some Rhyme Time Rambles for your upcoming outdoor event, then just get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

St Nicks Autumn Fayre

I love putting on community poetry activities. They’re a great way of getting everyone involved in an event. And anyone who was anyone was getting involved in the Amazing Autumn Acrostic being created at St Nicks Autumn Fayre yesterday. From York’s MP Rachael Maskell and the Sheriff’s Lady, Brenda Tyler, through to both the junior and senior winners of this year’s Longest Apple Peel contest, young and old alike helped create our acrostic poem, as you can see from the slideshow below.

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The weather was kind to us, and it was a delight to see people of all ages and from all backgrounds stream into ‘the green heart of York‘, to look around and take part in a host of autumnal activities, from apple juicing to apple olympics, bird walks to water vole wanders, Nordic walking to sloe gin tasting.

The Civic Party arrived by tuktuk (100% electric; zero emissions):

The Lord Mayor's party arriving by tuktuk

The Lord Mayor’s party arriving by tuktuk

and joined in events with gusto:

The Sheriff and Sheriff's Lady taking part in the Longest Apple Peel competition

The Sheriff and Sheriff’s Lady taking part in the Longest Apple Peel competition

And as for the cake competition – mouthwatering in the extreme!

Some of the entries in the cake competition

Some of the entries in the cake competition

At the end of the Fayre we had two complete Autumn Acrostics that celebrated what visitors had enjoyed about the day, and about St Nicks in general.

Me, Ivana of St Nicks and the two complete acrostics

Me, Ivana of St Nicks and the two complete acrostics

I realise it’s a tad tricky to read these, so let me quote some of the lines for you here:

‘Totally blown away by apple-juice making scrumptiousness’

‘Bobbing apples was amazing’

‘Nature in the middle of town and the community’

‘Really, really, really looooong apple peels’

‘Acrobatic minibeasts’

‘Song thrushes, sycamores and sawflies’

‘Talking with old friends’

‘Amazing autumnal activities’

‘Swinging on the swings’

‘Carefree autumnal strolls’

‘Looking for butterflies makes me feel happy’

‘Going through the bendy paths is fun’

‘Gaining my potter’s spot’

‘Sloe gin after Nordic walking’

Winner of the Longest Apple Peel competition (Junior section)

Winner of the Longest Apple Peel competition (Junior section)

If you missed this year’s Fayre, look out for the upcoming events at St Nicks. But you don’t have to wait for a special event. Come and walk around your local nature reserve any time you fancy. (Directions here.) Who knows, you might even spot a water vole!

Thank you to Ivana and all the other staff members and volunteers who made St Nicks Autumn Fayre such a success. It’s a privilege to be a St Nicks patron.

Oh, and if you’d like me to put on a community poetry event where you are, just get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life